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Siblings allege undue influence in row over £300,000 estate

Inheritance row over grandmother's legacy heard at the High Court

24 July 2014

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Two siblings have claimed that their aunt withheld details of their grandmother's death and funeral in an attempt to take their share of her £300,000 estate.

Lisa Martin and Paul Kicks took the dispute to the High Court challenging Georgia Leigh's claims that she had been given all proceeds from the sale of Joyce Smith's estate as a gift.

The grandchildren said that they expected the inheritance to be divided among the family, as per a 2008 will, but were told there was "no estate" because Smith had given Leigh everything before she died.

Martin and Kicks accused their aunt of exerting "undue influence" over their grandmother, who they claim was too unwell to make any informed decision.

It is alleged that around Christmas time 2009, Leigh moved Smith from the home in Oxfordshire - without telling the rest of the family - and had the locks changed the same day. Leigh then arranged for her mother to move into a care home in Kent.

Constance McDonnell QC, said: "Both the move to Kent and the subsequent move into a care home were contrary to the deceased's express wishes and intentions which she had stated to her own GP as recently as 24 December 2009. The family only found out about the move when they made fruitless attempts to contact the deceased in her own home over Christmas."

The court heard that Martin and Kicks were informed by social services that Smith was living in a care home in Kent but they were allegedly prevented from seeing her. Martin and Kicks assert that Leigh moved Smith to Kent in a "sustained attempt" to isolate her from the rest of the family.

Leigh's husband denied any wrongdoing by the couple and claimed they had moved Smith to Kent because she could not safely be left alone.

McDonell argued: "She did not inform any other member of the deceased's family about the deceased's death and cremation in December 2011." McDonnell has asked Judge Morris to order that Leigh pay back into the estate the proceeds of the house sale, with interest, which is then to be split according to her Smith's 2008 will.

The case continues.

 

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